Almost a whole month ago, I completed my first year of university. It was a great year; I did well, I learned a lot about myself, God, and my craft, and I began the process of following my career dreams. Yes, it was a very good year indeed.
But still, I have regrets. Even though I managed my time well. Even though I studied for every test and handed each paper in on time. I still wish I could do something over again.
I didn’t love people. And I regret that.
Back in September, I arrived at university, fresh out of high school with all kinds of expectations for how I was going to make friends and be a great person. The first couple of days, I was very friendly, making small talk with every freshman I saw. But that’s all it was — just small talk. And I regret that.
I was one of about thirteen other first years in my program. I certainly wasn’t lacking in people who shared a common interest with me. And they are all, along with our entire theatre department, warm, interesting, and friendly. But still, I didn’t find myself at home there.
I think I did it on purpose. See, I’d run away from people. I remember eating lunch and even doing homework outside for the first couple of weeks of sunny school days. I told myself and others that I “wanted to take in the sun while it lasted” and perhaps that was partly true; but now I know that I also just wanted to avoid other people.
I didn’t arrange to go to see shows or do homework or just hang out with others because it “wasn’t convenient” or “we didn’t live close by” or “I really worked better alone.” I became obsessed with my schoolwork; I was worried that my grades would falter if I lent even a bit of time to my friendships.
I even let my older friendships go. Sure, I was really busy. But still, I just abandoned everyone. Stopped all communication, pretty much. All because I was afraid of my grades dropping.
But really, deep down inside, I was afraid to love people.
I was afraid to let myself go and allow people to see me for who I was, with all of my flaws and imperfections. And let them love me for that.
I was scared of the rejection that I thought that I “knew” would come of loving others.
But I’ve learned that this is not the way to live. In fact, not loving people without reserve was one of the biggest mistakes that I made this year. Because even though its rewarding to read a prof’s compliments or a glowing transcript, you’re alone. Praise is lovely, but it isn’t a friend. Accomplishments — no matter what form they are in — are always great, but success will never love you as much as you think you adore it.
So love people. It isn’t easy. I’m still learning how. I think it’s maybe even easier for me to write an English final than truly, really invest in people on a daily basis. But it’s really worth it.
Love. Because it is lovely. And I don’t think you will ever regret it.
Love the Lord. Love people. Because Jesus said those were the greatest of the commandments.
Love others. Because God made us to love and be loved.